Damian Barr is a journalist, writer and host of his own Literary Salon. His memoir of surviving small-town Scotland in the Thatcher years, Maggie and Me, was published in 2013 to great acclaim; now he turns his hand to fiction for the first time. His debut novel, You Will Be Safe Here, explores legacies of abuse, redemption and the strength of the human spirit, and is a triumph.
In South Africa, at the dawn of the 20th Century, Sarah van der Watt and her son are taken from their farm by force to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp. 100 years later in Johannesburg, sixteen-year-old outsider Willem just wants to be left alone with his books and his dog; worried he’s not turning out right, his ma and her boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Training Camp. Inspired by real events, carefully researched and beautifully written, You Will Be Safe Here is a moving novel of connected parts, which uncovers hidden colonial history and present-day darkness while exploring our capacity for cruelty and kindness.